A great article on Afghanistan…

There’s a lot of talk about what’s going on in Afghanistan…including on our show. It’s very important to understand the history of this country in order to better understand what’s really going on. To that end, here’s a great article from the BBC. — Jeff

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2 responses to “A great article on Afghanistan…

  1. I am Andrew. My father is a frequent reader and had me read your link and the article on the BBC. Your link is very informative and the fact that you have no comments yet on this particular link is disturbing. As a two time Afghanistan vet and history buff, I know it is a dynamic region where cultural diversity, history, and a unique location in the world have afforded it the unique position of a crossroads for invading forces.

    First made infamous during the march of Alexander the Great’s military on it’s way to conquest in India, Afghanistan has been host to invasion for countless generations. The problems were have now in Afghanistan stem from the Soviet invasion, true, but the root of the trouble is seeded from the failed invasion of the British. The degree of the failure is apparent not only from the Enfield rifles the locals sell to American Soldiers in country, but from the tribes that were simply cut off by the pen of British statesmen creating modern Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Tribes that have been in the same region for thousands of years and watched Macedonian’s cross the mountains were separated by a line drawn in the sand by a foreign dignitary. This makes it extraordinarily difficult to deal with since tribal authority, especially in the remote trouble areas of the Afghan border regions (Ghazni, Khandahar, Helmand, etc), is seen as a higher authority than the national government. A Pashtu is a Pashtu. The border makes no difference and yet, to us, it is a huge problem. We can not even deal with the same family to catch Osama due to the Afghan/Pak border and modern views of sovereignty. Yet, the locals could care less since it has been their land far before the British, let alone we, ever arrived. Al Qaeda hides right across the border, in case news reports have not made that clear, but they are staying with the same tribes that live in familiar Afghan towns.

    Their cultural history also teaches us that they are extremely fond of the “Arab” due to their religious connection through Islam. Modern scholars have realized this but Arabs are seen as the true followers and original worshippers of Islam and the later adopters of this religion are enthralled, and thus easily manipulated, by them.

    Their history and culture, which is heavily tribal in nature, also calls into question the effectiveness of payoffs and rewards for information. Sure, some Afghans are willing to accept a few hundred dollars for information. However, as odd as this may sound, it would be far more beneficial to offer a farmer sheep, land, and a guarantee of future prosperity for his family than it would be to hand him millions for the capture of Osama. He would understand the land offer and be able to understand it much more than a few million greenbacks. To divert quickly onto another topic of history that is applicable, we should Pompey the Great and his conquest of the pirates. He understood their mentality, fought when needed, converted when possible, and cleared the Roman world of them quickly. Counter insurgency at it’s best, circa 60BC.

    Afghanistan has an assortment of problems. A lack of leadership in government (Karzai is called the Mayor of Kabul by many locals), a terrible infrastructure, and, of course, another war. Without understanding what makes them tick, what makes their culture unique, and what their history is, we will fail just like the Soviets and British before us. It is sad to say, but so few men in the military feel this way.

  2. Pingback: Reflection on Afghanistan by an American Soldier « The Official Blog of PoliTalk – The Weekly Political Podcast

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